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Hand-in-hand

Carole Sloan -- Home Textiles Today, December 9, 2002

As iffy as this year has been for home textiles folks as well as for home furnishings retailers and suppliers overall, there are a number of things that have crystallized somewhat.

This year could never be called one that crystallized all of the challenges of the home marketplace.

But standing out among the mass of the reverse auction scenarios, the retailers adding on post-agreement details — always in terms of dollars — and the general ennui of customers about buying our stuff were things like making the most of some really neat opportunities.

And which ones are these?

First and foremost, the entire kids area from the newborns to the tweens and teens. And the key to the excitement in this arena is the breaking down of previously rigid business lines. This department couldn't buy that because it was designated to another department number. Today that's just so much hogwash.

What's happening today is a blurring of lines of responsibility at retail and a growing professionalism among the supplier base that sees this segment of the home business with a more sophisticated eye — away from the cutesy, kitschy approach of the past.

And it's paying off in spades.

Then there's an emerging recognition, slow but still emerging, that all of these products need to work together despite turf wars within a store.

Sooner or later it's the customers' needs that will be first — forget about internal store turf wars.

One of the least recognized, but most important issues, is the relationship between the configuration of the mattresses with the bed coverings designed to fit them.

It's clear, after an extensive store marathon, that no one seems to be taking this very important piece of the "decorating a home" segment into much consideration.

You can walk into a store where the bedding, aka mattresses/box springs, looks like it could be one of the U.S.'s new weapons it is so huge and then find a couple feet away, bed coverings called "full/queen" that are expected to cover these monsters.

And that's just the beginning.

There's all the other textiles stuff that no longer fits with these monsters, like bedskirts, blankets and mattress pads.

Could be that a new day is happening. But it needs to happen faster.

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